Imani Carothers was one of the many starlets of the Homewood-Flossmoor ABC Girls Showcase
It was billed prior to the indoor season as the must see and must follow indoor track and field invitational. Backed by tremendous hype followed top notched teams and some of the state's best individuals, it was a can't lose formula. At times the Homewood-Flossmoor High School field house sounded like a rock concert/revival because of the fever pitched performances. There were six state bests produced
Last weekend in Lexington, Kentucky at the UK High School Invitational, it was supposed to Imani Carothers coming out party against some of the premier athletes in the country. The Chicago Brooks College Prep senior had chose the University of Georgia over one University of Kentucky and many minions in the crowd was eager to see how she would perform. Maybe it was a greased slicked jumping runway or it could have been the pressure that Carothers put on herself to perform at her level. An average performance by Carothers' standards just do fly right.
On Saturday, it was the Imani disection of the competition. In her first event of the day, she was challenged by a great long jump field that featured Serena Bolden of Springfield Southeast, Ameia Wilson of Danville, and Rich South's Camille Osborne. Carothers dropped several 19-foot efforts including the winner 19-11.75 that turned back Bolden (19-6/US #7) and Wilson (18-11.75/US #21). Carothers now moves up to US#3 and IL#2 if you can believe that.
The hurdles race has always been Carother's most dominating event, especially outdoors. The 60HH is a bit short for someone whose speed don't necessarily mean she will be a top 5 candidate nationally. However, Carothers is still incredible and she proved it with a convincing victory over Kayla Walters of Bolingbrook. Walters is expected to be the top hurdler threat in 3A. Carothers grabbed the state lead with a very good 8.66. In a short time span, Carothers ran in the "B" 60m and won with a personal best 7.76- one of the top times in Illinois.
The final event of the draining day was the triple jump. Initially, Carothers was not set to triple jump until very late in the indoor season or early outdoors. She is the state's #2 all-time returner and one of the nation's elite leap frogger despite still being a "novice" in the event. Despite a long day of action Carothers appeared to be fresh because she only used two LJ attempts and didn't have to run prelims of the Dash and high hurdles. It was a smart decision to get in some more work. The end result was a new state leader at 39-0.25 over a tough field which featured Bolden and Osborne.
West Aurora is going to be a force downstate in May when the trophy talk commences. They are also a great all-round program. The Blackhawks won all three divisions: A,B,C which cumulatively earned them the overall team trophy.
Top performances abound:
- Barrington kicked off the track festivities with a solid performance in the 4x800 relay running IL #2 9:47.46. The first several legs were close with Whitney Young, West Aurora, and Oak Park-River Forest all battling together with high 2:20s and low 2:30s splits. But it was the Fillies who were too strong and would eventually pull away for the easy victory.
- All-Star distance runner Jocelyn Long of Barrington would follow up with her team's relay performance with a victory of her own. The defending champion hit the first mile in 5:27 and never looked back in dropping a good early season mark 11:01.65. The Northwestern University bound Long now holds the third best mark in the state. Long would return in the 1600m and win going away in 5:13.79 (IL#10).
- Mikenna Robinson is no longer Isaiah Robinson's baby sister on the track scene. The junior from Neuqua Valley has now come into her own during the undercover season. After enduring immense pressure from her legendary brother's status and even expectations of her that some insanely compared to Katelynne Hart (Glenbard West) coming out of junior high school, it would be time needed to process really what she wanted to get out of the sport. Thus far it has been all roses for Robinson who has produced very favorable marks and is in the driver's seat on her successful path. The at-large berth in the 800m turned into a laugher with Robinson hitting the circuits in 31.7/64 before setting the cruise control and winning in 2:19.04. Lack of rest and a 400m winner the night before at Plainfield North did not seem to effect Robinson much over Shanice Garbutt (Danville) who ran 2:20.83 in her season debut.
- Dajour Miles better known as "Cinnamon" among her peers enjoyed a banner day. Just two weeks removed from a long basketball season, the West Aurora junior was ready to compete in a full bore of races. The first one was the 60m where a tense battle against Ameia Wilson of Danville, twice outdoor state 100m state champion Amira Young of Chicago Whitney Young. Wilson won the Dash in 7.58- a new state best. Young was second (7.60) and Miles (7.65). A good start for Miles who later intimidated a good 400m field to easily win in a meet record 56.66- the fastest time on a standard flat track. Who was in the good field? Young, Wilson, and at-large entrant Bella Uscila of Elgin St. Edward. No one surprisingly broke 60 seconds. But the surprise of the "A" division was Dekalb senior Sierra Long who came from behind in the penultimate section to beat Amaiya Barnes of Homewood-Flossmoor 1:00.17-1:00.32. Miles ended a great afternoon taking the deuce in 25.35. Look for Miles next big time confrontation at the New Balance Indoor Nationals next month in New York.
- Bloomington is one of the top power teams in the state and because of that the Purple Raiders sent their two best throwers to get in on the sweepstakes. Senior Ellie Weltha and junior Kelise Johnson entered in the shot put and produced winning efforts in the "A and "B" divisions. Weltha, who is a three sport star, is going to play softball at Illinois State University. In the meantime, she is the best shot putter in Illinois after throwing a new state best and US #6 45-5.5. Johnson won the "B" in 39-0.
- Homewood-Flossmoor put together their best 4x200 line up and dared the field to run with them. It was not a case of home cooking as the Vikings stiffled Dekalb and the chasers with another state leading mark. Led by anchor Olivia Oliver it was all attitude and no mercy. Oliver comes from a strong lineage with older brother Eric Oliver winning the 400m state championship for Homewood-Flossmoor in 2010. "Double O" was a pre-school phenom herself and as a senior is now living up to the promise that she and others had bestowed upon her. The end result was a 1:43.09 winner and then a strong finish in the 200 to take second behind Miles.
- The Showstopper ended the day on a great note as the crowd was in standing ovation and loud. After Homewood-Flossmoor tried to take advantage of some homecooking, they could not separate from Whitney Young and Amira Young on the anchor. Young and Young tracked down the leader and zipped home with less than 100m remaining for the winner in 4:07.98 over the hosts. Young along with Oak Park-River Forest and Dekalb produced the 3rd, 4th, and 5th best times in the state.